Local physicians discuss power
of prayer in healing

By Staff
November 15, 2003
By Ida Brown / religion editor
During a recent routine doctor's visit, Randy Munoz heard something he'd never expected.
The relationship between spirituality and medicine has long been intertwined. Studies have shown that many patients believe spirituality plays an important role in their lives. And, according to an article published in the January 2001 edition of American Family Physician, there is a positive correlation between a patient's spirituality or religious commitment and health outcomes, and that patients would like physicians to consider these factors in their medical care.
To find out, Munoz invited a number of Meridian doctors to participate in a discussion on the application of a doctor's faith in their practice. Held this week at St. Patrick Catholic Church's family life center, the one-hour discussion featured Drs. Fred Duggan, Danny Santiago, Kathleen Shine, Joe Siefker, Paul Varela and McGaugh.
Faith and healing
According to a recent Newsweek poll, 72 percent of Americans say they would welcome a conversation with their physician about faith; the same number say they believe praying to God can cure someone even if science dictates otherwise.
And while prayer is considered integral to healing 84 percent of Americans think praying for the sick improves their chances of recovery, according to an article on faith and healing in this week's Newsweek magazine 28 percent think religion and medicine should be separate.
And while many physicians admit to a belief in the power of prayer in healing, most do not express it openly.
But when the opportunity to pray in a medical situation arises, it is taken.
The doctors said praying is not only a testament of their faith, but also recognition of "who is really in charge."
McGaugh, who asks permission to pray openly on the form patient's complete during their first visit, said it is not a matter of being "preachy" or forcing one's beliefs on another.